Caroline Godin relies on seven ways to help organize her family's to-do list during the very busy school year.
School’s back and that means the to-do list just got longer and more complicated. After-school sports, emails, homework, chaffering, lunches, buses, forms, housework … housework?
My head spins with it all. Proverbs 19:21 tells us, “Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.” I need to trust in Him when I’m overwhelmed and take a breath. He’s got my worries and I’ll keep doing the next thing on the list.
I’m a mama of three going to three different schools. I work from home freelancing and coaching and work the afternoons at a martial arts school. My hubby does overnights at the ER. I don’t have time to remember my name.
My office isn’t finished yet, so my work gets done at the kitchen table. The upstairs is a mess of pre-construction-no-free-space so often homework gets done at the kitchen table too. We’re a bit disjointed.
At least three of us have ADHD. The little one is only four so who knows. We’re all heavy on the ‘H’ (poor hubby!) but otherwise all cope completely differently. It’s fun at our house, but a messy, overly dramatic, typically hysterical, where’s-my-phone, what’s-for-dinner, oh-look-a-bill kind of fun.
Where was I? Right! If you’re like me, you need organization! Luckily, I’m hyper-organized … sometimes. So, if you’re looking for some tricks, here are seven to pick through.
We use Google because we’re able to share multiple calendars. Use what you like as long as you can share! We had a family meeting (complete with teenage eye rolls) and picked colors for everyone. On everyone’s phone, I am red, hubby is green, daughter is purple, etc. Hubby and I can add or edit the kids’, but they can only control their own and view each other’s. The little guy just shows up … everywhere.
This is a central location to leave notes, to-dos, and important numbers. A common room or the kitchen is the ideal place for this. We have a white board. Currently, the bus times are on it, and a new prescription. Pertinent things only! Otherwise, clutter will build. When it’s no longer immediate, move it.
This is about planning your week. With rotating schedules in our family, I don’t always know who’s driving to hockey, or if the little one is taking martial arts on a Tuesday or Thursday. If your schedule doesn’t change, God bless you! Otherwise, just look ahead and don’t stress. Sometimes I put the details right on the calendar: “Neighbor will drive.” Oh, and don’t be like me and wait until five to plan dinner. (Whoops!)
First, don’t overuse these or you’ll ignore them like a preschooler asking a million questions at bedtime. (Not just me, right?) These are for one-timers: “pick up neighbor at bus stop today,” “put the chicken in the oven,” “don’t forget to pick up your kiddo at school,” etc. If there’s a routine alarm, be sure it’s a unique sound.
Don’t overuse these either. Maybe you want a kitchen list for groceries. Maybe your kids keep a list by their desks for schoolwork. You could keep a list on your phone for to-dos or passwords. (Be sure to password protect your password list!) Apps I love are ListMaster (shareable!), Due, and CalenDo. Limit your lists or you’ll be overwhelmed. Paper can get lost, but phone lists can be forgotten. Find your groove.
We’re a martial arts family and that means sometimes we’re all at the same activity at once. It’s gold. Keeping the number of activities to a minimum is challenging, especially with multiple kiddos, but it can be done. I don’t typically allow more than one activity at once, though my middle kid is breaking this with hockey and soccer. Limit involvement to what you can handle. Thresholds vary.
I am not kidding. If you don’t take time for you to breathe and check in with the Lord at least once a day you will be fried. Maybe this happens right before bed, or right when you wake up, or the moment you pull into the driveway. Make it happen. You time is crucial.
Hopefully you found some nugget in this list or had a laugh at my expense. It’s okay, I can afford it. Laughter is lovely. We are one crazy, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, hyperactive, ooh shiny!, always coming or going family! Whatever you need to do to get organized, if you’re stressed, find a way to destress pronto. Breathe. Pray to St. Dymphna, St. Monica, or Mama Mary! You’ll think more clearly. You got this, mama!
Copyright 2022 Caroline Godin
Images: (from top): Canva; copyright 2022 Caroline Godin, all rights reserved; Canva
About the Author
Caroline Godin is a freelance writer, catechist, and life coach to first responder families. She is married with 3 children. When not writing, catechizing, or coaching, she enjoys finding new house projects to start and never finish or going camping. She takes a light-hearted view of life and keeps her eyes on eternity. One day, she may be the patron saint of procrastination or ADHD.